From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:
One of the most prominent robotics companies that hasn’t yet been bought by Google just got a new round of funding.
Fetch Robotics, led by CEO Melonee Wise, one of the leading young figures in robotics, today announced a $20 million Series A round led by SB Group US, a unit of Japan’s Softbank. Also joining in the round, which brings total funding of the company to $23 million, are current investors Shasta Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures.
In April, the San Jose-based company announced a pair of robots in April that are intended to help automate warehouses and fulfillment centers. Fetch’s Freight robot works with human pickers in a warehouse as they gather products to be shipped, following them carefully much like a faithful dog. Workers toss product into bins Freight carries, and when they’re full, it goes off to a shipping area and another can be summoned. The one-armed Fetch potentially replaces the human picker, at least for many kinds of objects, and can work with Freight for more autonomous operation of a warehouse. Each can return to a charging base automatically.
The 18-person company plans to use the money across the board, from sales and marketing to manufacturing to software development. “We’re hiring like crazy,” says Wise. …